Ink Layering: Does Drying Help?

I think I’m starting to get my head wrapped around the difficulties that I have with making an ink opaque enough to cover the inks below it. This is kind of a prerequisite to controlling the transparency in order to create complex tones from just a few plates.

The key seems to be drying any ink on the paper slowly and thoroughly before printing a new ink.

[Lime green over black]
In the image above, the black was printed yesterday, baked for 15 minutes at 200 degrees to accelerate the drying, and then left on a rack with good airflow to the front and back of the paper for 24 hours. The dry black ink did not bleed into the lime green at all, really.
Since it’s going to take me at least 8 days to do a thorough test, I’ve decided to make extra sure of my results by printing a dozen tests with the layers appearing in various orders. Along with ensuring that the result that I see in one print is reflected in others, I’ll also be able to get a feel for the ink layer ordering that makes the most sense. Is it dark-to-light, light-to-dark, or something else? With twelve prints, I’m not exhausting all of the combinations, but it’s still more data than I really need. I think the answer will be obvious.
[Two days’ printing]
[Prints spend all day on the rack]
When this test is done, I’ll know whether or not I can get acceptable opacity from the litho inks I’ve been using by creating a workflow that allows all of the ink layers to dry thoroughly before printing a new one. When I finally reach the production stage with my printmaking, this will be easy. I’ll just spend all day printing the next layer of whatever set of prints is completely dry. If no current set is ready for another layer, I’ll print the first layer of a new set.
For now, though, I just have to practice patience. I can’t rush the experiments that will lead to deep learning and quality results. I pull, bake, and rack a few prints every morning, and then spend the rest of the day on weaving or bookkeeping. Slow and steady wins the race. Soon I’ll be in enough control of these processes that I will be able to just focus on design and creation.
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